Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Teak Lady, MaZu

During the summer of 2009, Jim Hitchman's recently restored 1958 Teak Lady, MaZu was hit by a fishing boat while on it's first voyage in many years.

Jim was heartsick - and when his insurance company's replacement offer came in insultingly low, he donated the boat to the Port of Toledo's nascent rowing and sailing club.

My good friend Rick Johnson, local shipwright extraordinaire, recently completed the repairs and called me to help step the mast (which had been split in half by the accident).

MaZu was built in Hong Kong in 1958 and is made entirely of teak. At a demure seventeen feet, she is a petite yacht. We have yet to complete the running rigging for the sails (which are a robust and weathered tanbark), but hopefully that will happen during the upcoming boat show in Toledo, Oregon this weekend.

MaZu waits at the dock for the show along side Lively, Doryman's Ed Monk knockabout.
Lively is a regular at the Toledo Wooden Boat Show and is sailed by members of the local yacht club, offering free sailboat rides.

The Toledo Wooden Boat Show promises to be better than ever, for it's sixth year running. I need to get back to work... there will be four boats from my fleet in the show and it's only two days away!

If you're in the neighborhood, be sure to stop by!


Brandon Ford said...


I'll be there with Ravn, but just barely. She will be complete for rowing, but I still need to make the spars, tiller, rudder and some rigging. I borrowed some 9-foot oars from the other Doryman, Scott. He's going to be camping in eastern Oregon. I'll see you Saturday morning. Hope we can have the two faerings next to each other.

robert.ditterich said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
robert.ditterich said...

Sure is an attractive donation- and such a small boat for it's shape...looks somehow Danish? What use will be had of her, and by whom?
Looks like you have a wonderful community in your port.
(previous note deleted to edit typo)

doryman said...

Rob, the waterfront community here is basically industrial, as is so much of our beautiful, once scenic waterways in this country. Some of us see a future of mixed use and want to encourage open use for the community before the water is sealed off from the public by prefab metal buildings. The programs envisioned by this devoted group are still in the planning stage, so what will happen to this and other donations is still a matter of conjecture. We hope to one day teach young people who might otherwise be at risk of social alienation to sail and row, but for now there is still debate about how to best use the waterfront resources in this small town. I just had a warm discussion the other day with a Port commissioner about the value of mixed use verses industrial expansion. He and I are less than a decade apart in age, but a century in attitude and vision.

Unknown said...

It is so good to see my old Teak Lady revived after the
accident. Larry Peterson told me about the mishap when I bumped into him at the Jack London Square Boat Show in Oakland, CA this last year but was assured that she was being brought back to life with loving and professional hands.
MaZu (ex Mei Ling) is supposed to have been the last
Teak Lady built and was finished in Feb. 1958 by Ah King Slipway in Hong Kong. The Teak Lady was designed by Ted Kilkenny in the mid 30's resembling the 23' San Francisco Bay Bear Boat but 6' shorter of course and proportionately heavier with a deeper full keel and a taller rig. Ted originally had the boat designed and built for his younger brother living in Belvedere (a peninsula off
Richardson Bay and Raccoon Strait in San Francisco Bay) but proved herself so well against other bay boats that orders were placed for more to be built.
A brightly varnished Teak Lady fresh from the Ah King slipway that Mr. Kilkenny supervised was displayed at the 1937 World Expo/Fair on Treasure Island, and before the fair closed 14 new Teak Ladies were ordered. By 1940 the 17' 3" Teak Lady was an official San Francisco Bay racing class.
More fame came to the Teak Lady class when in the 1940's a young couple sailed from Monterey, CA to Hawaii in theirs and then spent the next 2 years exploring the South Pacific, reeling off another 8,000 nautical miles. At that time she was the smallest boat to cross the Pacific Ocean.
Inspired by that story, another owner who had experience in the movie industry thought it would be a great little adventure to sail his Teak Lady from San Francisco Bay to San Diego in 1947; over 500nm, and filmed the trip with his 16mm movie camera. I understand it was a wild ride running before a raging gale somewhere between Pt. Sur and the Santa Barbara Channel. I wish I knew where that film was; can you-a-yahoooo?!!
Then in 1969 another newlywed couple decided to honeymoon their way from San Francisco to Hawaii in their Teak Lady but the results were not so good for the marriage: as soon as the boat landed in Hawaii, the girl had her bags packed and with a flip of the middle finger, said, "Good riddance!" or something like that, and flew back to California.
I started my love affair with Mei Ling (now MaZu) sometime back in 1988 at the Vallejo Marina. She was found in poor shape in Sausalito by Steve McDonald in 1979 who lovingly restored her to a beautiful condition at the Vallejo Marina. Most of the time the boat was covered with a custom canvas cover, but every now and again I would see her glow on D dock next to another Teak Lady that was built in 1937 who's hull was painted white. Eventually I was able to acquire her with the invaluable help of my captain and friend, Don VanZandt in February 1995 and spent the next 7 years sailing the dickens out of her; over 600 times
in any kind of weather San Francisco and the mighty San Pablo Bay dished out. In one 55knot winter gale, there was concern at the Vallejo Yacht Club when they noticed the Teak Lady driving hard with the windows submerged driving to weather like a freight train. But after noticing through the yacht club binoculars that both captain and crew were sporting ear to ear grins, they decided the rescue party could be called off.
Lots of great memories with that beautiful little boat. When ever I went out on her I felt like the school boys in the Winslow Homer painting, "Breezing Up" heading out on their little sloop in a spanking good breeze.
Feel free to contact me for more information about this particular Teak Lady or more Teak Lady history.
She is the loveliest boat I have ever sailed and will always be....... the girl that got away.
Wishing you a fair wind and a following sea.
David Keenan
owner 1995-2007

doryman said...

Good to hear from you! It's hard not to be seduced by the Teak Lady. The little marina she now lives in is up river from the ocean thirteen miles and is a bit tight for sailing a full keel boat (or so I thought). Shortly after her repairs, Rick Johnson (the shipwright responsible for the work - quite excellent I might add) took her for a spin. She is a true thoroughbred. We were able to short tack in light air without loosing boat speed and in fluky, unpredictable winds she held course like a champ. As you know, she was donated to the local Port authority for a kids sailing program which is still working to get off it's feet. Toledo is a small mill town with a waterfront that has been neglected for the last couple decades, but we hope to bring it back to life. When sailing classes begin, I'll be the lead instructor and will have the opportunity to put MaZu through her paces.

Capt. Larry said...

I taught myself to sail in Pac Lin a Teak Lady built in the 1930's.
Or rather it taught me to sail. In the same summer the Indians Occupied Alcatraz I was dock walking in Sausilito, dreaming of having a sailboat but with maybe $3 dollars in my pocket, head full of Joshua Slocum, and all the single handers.
I stumbled on Pac Lin, and eventually met her owner ( Jeremy Wolliver ?). The boat wanted some love, and I wanted a boat. We struck up a deal for a "Maintenance Charter", I would Caulk and Varnish and Bottom Paint Pac Lin, and the I could sail her all I wanted. The owners idea of using the boat was to bed some chick from the finance district on a long lunch... and apparently that was more of a pipe dream than my sailing.
Never mind that I had never varnished anything, caulked anything, nor sailed anything. When you are 18 all things are possible. And it turned out that with hard work, study, and some advice from AL, the friendly boat yard owner.. it was all possible, and the results I am glad to say were admired wherever the Teak Lady Went.
There followed a long series of sails, that eventually included poking into every corner of SF Bay in every kind of weather... generally without charts, certainly without depth sounder, and no knowledge of navigation beyond a natives knowledge of Bay Area Landmarks. To say I did everything stupid that it is possible to do... is no exageration.. save one. I did not damage the boat !
I forget how I got separated from Pac Lin.. but they say if you Remember the 60's in San Francisco your weren't really there.
Fast forward to 1975. I had sold my house at Jenner, in order to go to University to become a Doctor. Renting wasn't my thing, and I soon found a Teak Lady built in 1979 for sale in Redwood City. One the way to see the boat I had to walk past the VW dealer with the money in my pocket. I had enough to buy a brand new VW Thing or the Teak Lady. I kept walking, and sail home from the southbay back to Marin. Eventually we ended up on the Petaluma River, where I happily lived aboard for a couple of years. School, love, and a girl friend with a chinese junk eventually persuaded me that two boats was one too many ( and she wanted the Wrong One ! ).
Today they call me Captain, thanks in part to all the sailing hours spent on Teak Ladies. Capt Larry Rau. Inland Master, Sail, Steam Power. Occidental California

doryman said...

Great story, Capt Larry!